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The Importance of Cornish Identity in West Penwith

Cornish Identity in West Penwith


The Importance of Cornish Identity in West Penwith is a dissertation study by Gweniver Orchard, supervised by Professor Jane Wills.

Identity is a natural part of human development and our psychological wellbeing. Minority identities are complex, multi-faceted and face continued threats and denial of their importance and relevance.

The case of Cornwall has long been part of the British geo-politics debate and still remains unresolved, despite National Minority Status being granted in 2014. Understanding how minority groups identify, express, and assert themselves across different generational factions is important because it will affect the political and cultural future of their identities.

This study explores the experiences of different generations of residents in West Penwith, Cornwall using online surveys and interviews to gain insight into how people self-identify as Cornish (or not) within the nested cultures or dual identities. The results suggest there are generational differences in the strength of Cornish identity, with older ones being more likely to have the strongest native identity compared to younger ones.

The study also demonstrates the complexities of dual or nested identities, with a clear distinction between Cornish folk self-identifying as Cornish and Not English. This study highlights the importance of minority identities to those that have them and how these needs are denied by dominant power structures, thus creating greater opposition to colonialist powers.

Read the full study here